Next Generation Teachers Bridging Pupils and Teachers
This course aims to challenge the initiative of university students to understand the needs of pupils in terms of ethical, cultural or sexual diversity, conveying a new form of understanding to the working class of teachers while giving first hand practical experiences to the next generation.
Team membersWiktoria Lewandowski, Sarah Ludyga, Angela Maidhof & Yanki Yilmaz
Members roles and background
Wiktoria Lewandowski studies mathematics and physics with the goal to become a teacher. She is part of the TalentNetwork at the Ruhr-University and soon to be teaching pupils from socio-economically challenging backgrounds at the TalentKolleg in Gelsenkirchen.
Sarah Ludyga studies German and history at Ruhr University Bochum with the goal to become a teacher. She is part of the TalentNetwork at her university and a volunteer worker at a local church. Her experience as a part of the LGBTQIA+-Community led her to this Hackathon to change the learning environment for other queer students.
Angela Maidhof is a student at Heidelberg University. With her studying Education Studies as major and Psychology as minor we had some well-founded background knowledge concerning modern teaching strategies and theories in this sector. Also, she’s doing an internship in the field of innovation management and is e.g. experienced with pitch training - both are a perfect addition to Yanki who in her studies focuses on thriving innovation forward and Sarah and Wiktoria who will become a teacher. On top of this, Angela is a chair member of ROCK YOUR LIFE! Heidelberg and engages in Educational Equity, which brought some valuable insights into the discussion.
Yanki Yilmaz is a Ruhr University student enrolled in the Master degree program “Management & Economics” with a main research interest in innovation management and entrepreneurship. Being part of the TalentNetwork and having a Bachelor's degree in Economics and Korea Studies, she follows the incentive of integrating cultural diversity and creating equal educational conditions for the entire society.
The course is designed by students and includes all necessary facilities of the university. It can be divided into five distinct phases that should ensure a proper functioning of all instances:
Phase 1: PREPARE
This phase is the vital point that the entire coures is anchored around. Preparing the necessary information in regards to current demographic trends concerning the diversity in a specific region as well as demanding professional help from other institutions for having conversations heaviliy based on emotional contexts.
Phase 2: SURVEY
As data that is accessible on the internet can be outdated or even manipulated, it is important to get hands on up-to-date data for a specific region in person. In order to do so, students shall go to schools nearby the same city the university is located at and conduct a study. A priorly created digital website that is simply designed and assures full anonymity can be used as an efficient tool. Questions that are part of the study should specifically ask essay questions and multiple choice questions. Those can ask for situations of misunderstandings or miscommunications based on discriminative or unfair nature between pupils and teachers. Furthermore, wishes and ideas about certain topics that teachers should be made aware of can be suggested.
Phase 3: CONVEY
Students combine the prepared information with the results of the conducted study and build a fundamental foundation that should help teachers to understand the current needs of their pupils. This is the bridging phase and students should realise their important role that is accompanied with responsibility. Neglecting some concerns of pupils or strongly prioritising some other issues can drastically change the outcome of the entire course. Hence, professional obejectivity by students is asked, which will enrichen their competency in their future field of work.
Phase 4: EXCHANGE
In anticipation of teachers being sceptical or not open to change this stage allows for mutual learning. Having the insights of already fully established teachers with a rich amount of experience in the education field can help students understand both sides of the bridge. Feasibility of requested changes in behaviour or classes can be discussed in a friendly and respectful manner.
Phase 5: IMPLEMENT
By including the young and fresh ideas of pupils and students as well as the experienced knowledge of professionals, in this phase it is time to evoke a change in the education system. The schools are directly informed by students about the results of the course, which is also the final form of examinations for students to receive their grade. Students will get their form of fulfillment by having particpated in a course that gives them the practicality and responsibility of not only changing current working conditions of teachers, but also having established a mindset for the next generation of teachers.
Certain problems or circumstances some students face are not addressed in the university courses future teachers attend. These include educational inequality, racism, or homophobia at school, (mental) health issues, discrimination against neurodiverse pupils, the difficulties that come with a poor financial situation, a difficult social background, or a migration history. They often don’t develop a sensitivity and awareness for these issues.
Working teachers often do not find the time in their busy schedules to identify and think about these issues. This can lead to them unwillingly or unknowingly discriminating against certain student groups in lessons or their general behaviour. It can create prejudice, which then again impacts a teacher’s perception and judgement of their students.
This can affect the educational situation for some students in a negative way, develop an atmosphere in which they don’t feel comfortable to study or even lead to less participation in lessons and student life. All of this promotes inequality in education. School reproduces society. If teachers aren’t made aware of certain issues students face, they will reproduce structures which create a disadvantage for these students.
Solution target group
As this is a university course that aims to discover pupils needs and talk with teachers about them, we have three target groups:
- The university students that are addressed in the course and who will act as a bridge between pupils and teachers. The goal is to enrich them in an innovative way with knowledge that is useful for them during the course of the program as well as for their future. Therefore project based learning will be used as a method, in order to maximize the Learning Gain and let them feel that they can really make a difference.
- Teachers are our second target group. In the end, this course aims to sensitize them about situations in which they could treat pupils unfairly and make them aware of pupils' problems, while also actively including them in the whole solution searching process.The course aims to work with teachers of every middle and higher education school form.
- Pupils are the third target group. Students can reach them and give them a chance to voice their concerns. This way they can be included in making a positive impact and learn to reflect their experiences.
Our project-based learning program will provide a strongly needed sustainable chain of knowledge for next generation teachers and schools, so it will benefit all target groups.
Our main target group, next generation teachers, will gain valuable experience for their future job and shape the way they see injustice in themselves and others as well as how they face them. Current teachers can gain insights to the concerns of pupils of all ages and change their schools right now. Students will hopefully experience a better, safer and more understanding learning environment in their schools and be able to better self-reflect on their experiences. All in all, we want to give pupils a voice to talk about their needs and concerns!
In a few years, the students will have completed their studies and work in schools. A survey about their awareness of social injustice and their capability to solve those problems going hand in hand with it in their work environment can be taken.
To see how the teachers and pupils have benefited from this course, schools can be revisited regularly after a certain amount of time and both parties can be asked about their experience after the course has taken place, e.g. in person or with an anonymous survey. If they agree, we could also visit their classes on a small scale and give them feedback. The survey could show a general picture of improvement for people involved and direct dialogue can show the remaining individual issues and concerns.
The short-term goal isn’t to change a teacher’s way of thinking completely, but rather to raise awareness. Knowledge of and open communication about student issues will always have a positive impact on everyday school life! Having in mind what issues a student in certain circumstances must face can make teachers more sensible in their interactions with students or make them rethink the way they judge certain situations.
Solution tweet textHave you experienced #inequality at school and felt not understood by your teacher? You’re not alone! To overcome this tremendous issue a group of students came up with an innovative #course that sensitizes teachers towards pupils’ concerns by building a #bridge between them.
Innovation is often based on already existing innovations, however, it should include a form of novelty for the groups targeted. In this case the innovative aspects are
- not relying on old data but instead conducting a study as a reliable source of information
- getting in touch with pupils and implement the change they need and not the change the government prescribes
- building a course that allows for proactive participation of students, which is fun and exciting
- no textbook theories, only hands-on practical experience
- three generations in one boat: pupils, students and teachers
- project-based learning that is flexible and changes shape each semester depending on course participants and schools
- networking between students and future workplace employees
The teacher training or the courses university students must take to become teachers vary greatly among universities, cities and countries. Some challenges however, such as the one worked on here, can be found almost everywhere.
A similar or adjusted course could be implemented at other universities as part of the teacher training as well, especially if these programs have a certain freedom as to which courses can be chosen during the studies. Examples for such areas are the “Optionalbereich” in the Ruhr University Bochum or the “Fächerübergreifende Kompetenzen” in Heidelberg.
After all, the main participants of this course, namely pupils, university students and teachers, can be found in a comparable constellation everywhere. The common goal to achieve the best possible education for their pupils is also the same for teachers and future teachers in different cities and countries.
The problems we are facing are not going to disappear in a few months, so this course has the potential to be given every semester in the next few years. This sustainable approach will keep finding the underlying problems in the system of the individual schools and create solutions to handle them in different ways with every new university student that joins the program.
The knowledge and mindset of students will be carried on to their future jobs, in which they will be able to create a better work environment while current teachers will be able to be part of the change. The new sensibility for certain issues will increase.
The next step would be to implement a network between different schools and universities as well as pupils and teachers. Schools and universities can transfer knowledge and help each other out. Every semester new schools can participate, or old schools can be revisited. Once the program is well known in a few schools, the word will spread and convince others to join.
Right now, we are working on the submission to Ruhr University Bochum to implement this program and to start building the network.
Solution team work
Our teamwork is a flagship to how well hybrid team work can be done:
Since three of us are located at Ruhr University and one at Heidelberg University we were forced to work with online tools like Zoom, Google Jamboard etc. We were lucky, because these tools and the way to work were not new to us, as we’re all students and are used to online seminars.
What connects us is not the same study programme, but the spirit to revolutionize the education sector and make teachers, who can make a big difference in a childs’ life, aware of the problems pupils are facing in order to deal in an empathic way with them.
One could assume that it’s hard to develop a proper team spirit and common values - firstly because of the very short amount of time we had during the Hackathon and secondly because of the display that could act as a boundary of emotions. However, we managed to grow as a team and develop trust for /towards each other very fast. What helped was the informal exchange, e.g. about how our university works or what else we’re interested in - this way we could find many overlaps.
In order to work together properly and progress we communicated openly and established a comfortable and positive feedback culture. Everyone was very appreciative of each other, as we managed to let each other speak and not interrupt, even though sometimes there was a little delay due to bad internet connection. This way everyone kept their motivation boost during the hackathon and ideas were developed together, as we completed each other well.
We can definitely imagine working together in the future, as we all find it enriching to hear other perspectives from people with different study backgrounds. For us it was astonishing to see what we developed in a team in a short time of 30 hours. As we stand hundred percent behind our idea we have the vision to realize it. Chances for that are very good!
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